I’ve been re-reading this post by Emma at Raw Food Scotland and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning for some time to write a post on how to manage introducing more raw, healthy foods into your life in your own time and in your own way.
Like Emma says, the information out there can be extremely overwhelming, and you do sometimes feel like it’s all weighing you down, as if you’re somehow not doing it ‘right’, and you wonder who you should be listening to. And really, the answer to that last bit is quite simple: you should be listening to YOU.
When you start out exploring the raw thing, you’re bound to be influenced by anybody and everybody who ever utters the word ‘raw’. What you tend to forget, however, is that these people aren’t living your life – YOU are.
Take Kate Magic, for example. I really admire this woman. She’s bringing up three kids, running Raw Living, posting to Kate’s Bubble, promoting herself on Facebook, and doing God knows how many talks and courses every week/month/year. Some of her recipes are really fab (I’m a big fan of her kale chips), but the vast majority of her recipes use several expensive ingredients, and some recipes use ridiculous amounts of superfoods. Some of the cakes on Raw Living cost over £30 each to buy ready-made – hardly surprising, given the number of superfoods in them. Unless you’re pretty wealthy, you’re not going to be able to afford all these ingredients, certainly not in the quantities you’d use if you lived entirely on Kate’s recipes. She’s a worthy ‘guru’, is Kate, but my life couldn’t be more different to hers.
Then there’s Shazzie – another one who laces everything with superfoods. The more cynical among us might say that this is because Shazzie and Kate both sell superfoods on their websites, so it’s in their interests to create recipes that mean people have to spend shitloads of money on ingredients. I’m not sure one way or another, to be honest; I like to believe the best things about people but these women are business owners, after all. I will say though, that in the beginning I quite admired Shazzie, but her heavy-handed sales tactics, non-stop sales emails, “American long copy”-style web pages selling e-books and courses, and the trying to actually sell herself as a spiritual guru quite frankly irritate the hell out of me.
For a while there I got really into Russell James. But all his recipes (a) consist mainly of nuts, which make my weight balloon, and (b) take half a week to make (I may be exaggerating a little there, but you know what I mean – gourmet raw is definitely best saved for special occasions or when you have a couple of days to spare).
Jason Vale is cool, but it’s all about the juice. I did his 7lbs in 7days program and was hungry, bored and miserable for a week. I lost 6lbs which was nice, but over the next few weeks the weight started to creep back up again (all lost again now, and back under control, and gradually reducing, thank God). I can’t live my life on just juice or just salad or just anything; I enjoy my food too much for that! Never again. I might do a 3 day juice cleanse once in a while in the future, but I’d never do a week of it again – not on your nellie!
I like Peter Pure too – he is bonkers in a good way – but the “bread is totally evil” thing leaves me a bit bemused. I lived with coeliac’s disease until I suddenly, unexpectedly, grew out of it at 16 (you’re supposed to have it for life, apparently – umm, not me!) so I’ve never developed a taste for bread, particularly – but I’m still partial to the occasional just-from-the-oven ciabatta dipped in top-notch olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I don’t do it often, but I reserve my right to do it if I fancy it!
In the beginning, when you’re still learning all your raw techniques and raw alchemy methods (who knew you could make a sweet ‘butter icing’ from cashews, or lime mousse from avocados?) it’s natural that you’ll be heavily influenced by others with more experience and knowledge. But as time goes on, here’s what you learn:
The only raw food guru you need is YOU.
Only YOU know what you like and dislike, what makes you itch or upsets your tummy or makes you put on (or lose) weight. Only YOU know how much time you can afford to spend on preparing a raw cake, or how much money you can afford to spend on ingredients.
You are all individuals! Bloody wonderful once you admit it, isn’t it? I absolutely insist that you press ‘play’ on this video, right now, for the best piece of advice that any ‘guru’ will ever give you. You can thank me in the comments, mkay?
Once you’ve learned what you need to learn – your basic raw techniques and all that – you will find you slip into your own natural raw rhythm. It doesn’t take long to discover that actually, you can manage pretty well without all the gurus, without quantum cake and without half a ton of he shou wou every day. In the beginning I was all about the dehydrated snacks and the superfoods (and doesn’t my bank account know it!) and the kale chips and non-stop bloody salad (and I still don’t enjoy salad very much, no matter how good it is for me; it’s something I eat because I should, rarely because I fancy it). But these days, my day goes pretty much like this:
- Homeopathic remedy on waking, then cup of tea, then wheatgrass, barley grass and milk thistle in a big glass of water
- Green juice for breakfast
- As much water as I can manage thoughout the day (usually 3-4 pints a day)
- A fabulous smoothie for lunch, which usually includes cacao powder because it’s a great way to hide the manky taste of maca, which I try to take daily, and I always pop other superfoods into it too
- My fridge always has home made raw chocolate in it. That’s the law. I eat several chunks a day, safe in the knowledge it’s good for me.
- When Dewi comes home he’ll often fancy a juice, so I’ll make one for both of us.
- For dinner, I eat whatever I want to eat. Tonight it’s king prawns with salad and jacket potatoes. Last night it was a takeaway curry. Tomorrow night it’s leftover home made bulgar wheat paella (cooked it Saturday night and froze the leftovers – bulgar wheat is much healthier than rice and tastes bloody marvellous). With the exception of the takeaways (we’ll have one or two a month on average), everything I eat is made from fresh ingredients and I never, I repeat NEVER, eat ready meals.
And that’s the pattern I’ve settled into. It’s the right pattern for ME. I don’t feel the need to be any more raw than I am – not at the moment, anyway. I’m getting the benefits of all the bloody fabulous stuff I put into my body during the day – the juices, the water, the smoothies, the chocolate – but I’m also able to eat what I want for dinner. I still sit on my arse all day and don’t go out of my way to exercise – but I do work in the garden most weekends, and do housework, and go out shopping or whatever, so my weekends are usually pretty active. And the best thing is… I’m still losing weight. How fab is that? 16lbs so far this year, effortlessly. Fan-bloody-tastic!
People often don’t believe this, but I swear it’s true: the more good things you put in your body, the less you will crave bad things. I can’t remember the last time I fancied a bag of crisps or a packet of sweets. Genuinely. By the tail end of 2011 I was living on a diet (during the day anyway) that consisted of a bar of chocolate (usually a Snickers or a Bounty – check out Rebecca’s raw versions of these, by the way – they’re fab!), a packet of sweets (usually the old-fashioned shrimps and bananas, remember those? Pure sugar, ick!) and a packet of Wotsits. I can honestly say that since I started living more raw-ly, I have not once fancied any of these things. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had a fizzy drink, or even wanted one (I used to love Red Bull, and if I was out and about I’d keep a 500ml bottle of diet coke in my handbag; these days it’s water all the way, baby!). Seriously – just keep piling the good stuff into your gob and the bad stuff will very soon become a bad memory.
That is the pattern I’ve settled into, and it works for me. But it probably won’t work for you. You have to find your own way. In the wise words of Brian: you don’t need to follow ANYBODY! You are all individuals! It’s time to be your own guru. Do what you know is best for YOU, find your own rhythm, and be the happy bunny you were born to be. And that is the closest to guruhood I am ever going to get